Belle Chasse wanted to run the football and keep it away from Carver's dangerous playmakers.
Playing on a sloppy field after days of rain, the Cardinals did just that and came up with key stops in taking a 20-12 victory in a Class 4A state playoff game Friday at Belle Chasse.
“We won because we ran the ball and we played defense,” coach Stephen Meyers said. “Now, we have to do the same thing next week.”
Belle Chasse (9-2), the No. 14 seed, won its fourth consecutive game and will play No. 3 St. Martinville next week in the second round.
The loss for Carver (7-4), the No. 19 seed, came after the Rams won their first district championship since 2004.
The Cardinals, behind 103 yards rushing by Ralph Jones and 101 by quarterback Jordan Mariana, grounded out 287 yards rushing to Carvers 169.
Carver quarterback Quincy Curry completed 11-of-20 passes but for just 118 yards and a touchdown.
Mariana scored the the winning points on a 1-yard keeper with 8:39 remaining in the game, capping a 56-yard drive in eight plays. Mariana also ran for the 2-point conversion.
The decisive drive came after Curry tried a sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Carver 45 and lost a yard with 54 seconds left in the third quarter. After Mariana's score, the Rams came back and drove to the Belle Chasse 12. However, a false-start penalty on second-and-1 proved costly, and on the next play, a screen pass to Randolph Armstead lost two yards. A pass on fourth-and-9 fell incomplete, giving the Cardinals the ball with 1:56 left.
Carver tied the score 12-12 on Curry's 35-yard touchdown pass to Justin London 55 seconds into the third quarter. The drive went 61 yards in just three plays, and was just what Meyers feared about the Rams.
“They didn't take much time doing it, and just like that, the score was tied,” he said.
Said Mariana, who threw just three passes: “We just kept pounding. That's what we do.”
Belle Chasse had taken a 12-6 lead at halftime also after getting a big stop. The Cardinals took over on downs at their 16, then went 84 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. With the score 6-6, the Rams had fourth-and-1 at the Belle Chasse 11 at 5:52 of the second quarter. However, a false start penalty made it 4th-and-6 from 16. Curry's swing pass intended for running back Corey Johnson fell incomplete.
After four running plays, Mariana connected with tight end Charlie Burt over the middle for a 41-yard pass to the Carver 6. Two plays later, Mariana scored from the 1 with 2:15 left before halftime.
Belle Chasse scored on the game's first possession, going 81 yards in 14 plays that drained six minutes, 47 seconds off the clock. Jones scored on a 6-yard run.
However, after a squib kickoff to keep the ball from Carver's dangerous returners, the Rams answered with a 70-yard march. Armstead capped the drive with a 28-yard scoring scamper up the middle, tying the score 6-6 at 2:30 of the first quarter.
After that, both defenses made stops that gave their teams the ball deep in their territories.
Belle Chasse rushed for 168 yards in the half, with Jones gaining 70 on 12 carries. Mariana was 1-of-2 passing, with the big gain to Burt.
The Rams rushed for 110 yards in the half, led by Johnson's 56 on six carries. Curry was 3-of-5 for 15 yards.